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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Dealing with disappointment/mental health


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I'm not sure if this is the correct place to ask this, please move it to a more appropriate place if needed.


I'm a bit concerned about my daughter and her mental health right now. She has been dealing with an injury for several weeks. It does not appear that the injury will be resolved before Nutcracker performances. She is very upset and doesn't seem to be handling in very well. She understands that she needs to heal and get stronger, but she's been in The Nutcracker for the past 8 years and I don't think she knows what she'll do if she's not in the show, and I don't know how to help her with that.


Any ideas on what I can do or say to help her? I just hate to see her just sitting around, eating, watching TV and looking miserable.

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I know it's hard to be injured and out of class and performance, but, she needs to be watching classes and helping in rehearsals. If she has done 8 years of Nuts, she has done a LOT of roles. She could help with the rehearsals. She could help backstage and learn some things in the process that could come in very handy in the future. She needs to get over feeling sorry for herself and realize that dancers do get injured, and how you use the time off to improve yourself and learn something is what is important. Sitting around doing nothing is a major waste. There is a lot to do backstage during Nuts, and volunteer help is valuable.

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A student at our studio was unable to dance one year and she actually helped backstage. Her experience with all the costume changes and scene changes really helped backstage and she was well recognized for her efforts.

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You didn't mention what kind of injury, but depending on what kind it is, it may also be possible to talk to the director about whether there is anything in the Party Scene that can be done to allow stage time, but not dancing time. Many have maids, grandparents, etc. that do not do alot of dancing. But helping with rehearsals and backstage are wonderful ways to be a part of the production without hitting the stage. And if the company does things like a Sugar Plum Tea or other outreach where the dancers just dress up, those are other things to ask if she can participate in to still feel a part of things.


As Ms. Leigh has stated, injury is a part of a dancer's life and they will miss productions because of it. While it is hard, the dancer does have to accept it and move forward.

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Maybe you can encourage her to be a "mentor" to the younger dancers, especially those new to Nutcracker this year. While essentially this is helping them backstage, helping with costumes, and keeping them quiet, using that term implies a lot more responsibility and can perhaps help elevate her sense of worth and importance.

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Echoing the idea to get your dancer involved in non-dance aspects of the show. One friend of our DS decided to quit dancing recently (not from injury, just lots of other things in her life), but is very excited that we asked her to help backstage. She gets to be around her dance friends and learn how to put on a ballet from a different perspective. Plus, it's great for us to have another experienced hand back there. A win-win!

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  • 4 weeks later...

My daughter has been out for 5+ months. She's just returned from injury (to a level 2 class, from a level 5 pointe), and can only do barre until she gets an okay from her PT. She's tried to remain involved and will help backstage this week with wrangling kids or costumes or something else necessary during the tech and dress rehearsals for the studio's "Nutcracker." She'll be able to volunteer for the "Sugar Plum" matinee, and, I think, even wear a tutu or costume. I know she longs dearly to be dancing again. This work backstage (and perhaps ushering) is only a small consolation, but it keeps her connected to the class and the studio as she continues to heal.


Good luck with your daughter. As parents we want so much to make it all better, like when they were little, with a kiss to wipe away the tears, but often that ability is out of our hands. Even with our support, they're still on their own, responsible for their assigned exercises, or rest, as the case may be, their PT and their bodies. It's all part of growing toward maturity.

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There can be front of house opportunities, too -- sometimes there is a boutique or a school information center, flower sales ....

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